The cool thing about art school is that you get to make really cool stuff while learning how to use the materials or a technique. You end up with something tangible that tells the story of how you learned to solve problems and create the finished piece. I wanted to share some of my all-time favorite pieces because I don’t just love how they turned out, but I also love the process behind each piece and how they tell the story of design problem solving.
This is a ceramic piece I completed in high school. It was hand-built using the coil building technique with holes cut out of it. My original plan was to have very small coils crossing the holes in the vase to give it an exposed beams or wires look. However, due to time constrains because this was a high school class and not my own studio, I was not able to control the drying of the coils and they kept breaking. Instead, I decided to extrude a large mass of coils to attach to the holes and I loved the result. I finished it with a very careful two-glaze color scheme and I got my finished piece. Not only was this piece a ton of fun to make (despite some frustration), I also ended up winning a Scholastic Gold Key for it.
This piece I created in my 3D class my sophomore year at Marywood. It is made entirely from recycled materials. The base is scrap wood, the water is plastic water bottles, and the hand is crayons. To make the water, I had to solve a few problems: I had to make something man made look natural, and I had to make something clear appear to be a passable blue without looking too cartoonish. To make the plastic look natural, I cut smaller strips from the bottles and warped them using a torch and tweezers. To make them blue, I applied different shades of blue Sharpies with some rubbing alcohol to make it blend and look semi-translucent. The hand was a whole other set of problems. First, I stripped like 50 crayons of their wrappings and melted them in a large container in the microwave in my dorm room (I had to use what I had). Once it was completely melted, I actually used my own hand to dip into the wax to create the cast of a hand. Needless to say, both hands ended up pretty burnt before I got a good cast. Attaching everything together was yet another set of problems which I solved by running a piece of wire up the back of the water and into the hand. The end result is surprisingly stable. This one is one of my favorites because every time I look at it, I laugh at all of the times I burnt myself to make it.
This is Sir- a two foot tall, wooden toy inspired ceramic and wood sculpture that I constructed in high school. Building him required playing a balancing game to perfectly distribute the weight so that he would stand on his own. All of the large pieces including his hat, tail, head, nose ball, body, and top half of the base are hollowed out clay painted with acrylic. The bottom (dark purple) piece of the base is wood along with all of the dowels connecting the pieces. I had a ton of fun making this guy, but he did give me some fits. After fully assembling him without the bottom wooden piece, he toppled right over. So, I had to find a solution that would give him more base to stand on- which was to add a second base made of wood to make it sturdy. I don’t think adding that piece on takes away from the overall piece because it looks like building blocks stacked up, which goes with the wooden toy theme. This may be my all-time favorite piece I’ve ever done.
So there you have it! Three of my favorite pieces with a story. When I look at one of my finished pieces, I see not the product, but every hurdle and problem I had solved to complete that piece. That is what I love so much about art- it’s not just a product, it’s a story.
(To read about the piece in the feature photo, see my blogpost about it here!)